Alaska editorial: Avoiding property crimes

Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2009

The editorial first appeared in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman:

A woman wrote a letter to the paper regarding a burglary that had ruined a young woman's careful saving and that woman's son's faith in humanity.

After months of putting aside money for a computer and a printer to help her son do his homework, they were stolen when someone broke into their home. The boy had also received a Wii system from his grandmother. That was taken also.

The mother is disabled and on Social Security, so saving for those items was difficult. Now she has to start over and school is fast approaching. The grandmother closed the letter by saying she hopes the thieves have trouble sleeping at night.

Don't we all. But the fact is they probably don't sleep much because they are drugged-out losers who keep stealing to feed their habits.

Anyone who pays attention to the police blotter in the paper knows burglaries are commonplace these days.

Televisions, electronics like the ones belonging to the family mentioned above, guns, tools, ATVs, boats and assorted other vehicles, are taken if they aren't bolted down.

There have even been some brazen robberies. Shoplifting seems to be up, although those crimes might be related more to kids testing the system. But some, when the goods amount to $100 or more, might be more of an indicator of the economy.

The break-ins and burglaries, though, are done by thieves who need fast money. Primarily drug money.

So, what are we supposed to do? We can't just stay home to protect our valuables. Unlike the druggies, most of us have to go work or school or run errands. It would be nice if we could all afford security cameras and an alarm system, but most of us can't.

One thing we can do is look out for each other. Get to know what the neighbors drive. Tell your neighbor you're going to be away for a certain amount of time.

Join a neighborhood watch. If there isn't one, see about starting one.

If you live in an isolated area, your options are limited, but still you and your neighbors need to be aware of unfamiliar vehicles frequenting the area and let each other know.

Don't tell anybody about medications you may be taking. If you get a paper, call and have it stopped if you are going to be away for more than a day or two.

Two final things. If you are a victim and the thieves are caught, go to court and make your voice heard. Tell how this has affected you. Make it hard for the judge to give them a lesser sentence.

Lastly, don't buy tools, guns, ATVs or anything else if the seller doesn't have documentation proving its ownership. Buying stolen goods makes you part of the problem.



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